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The Difference Between a PIM Tool and Inventory Management Software

According to multiple industry studies, more than a third of all product information has a minimum of one mistake. Converted into business performance deficits, which means an over 30% chance of losing customers, misprocessing that information and, in the end, losing revenue. That’s why a plethora of software systems have grown to match the exponential increase in data volumes needing to be processed by product-centric companies.

Two of these software solutions are PIMs and inventory management tools. In a few words, a PIM solution is not designed to function as an Inventory Manager, just as an inventory system is designed as a subset of an ERP, to collect and organise inventory information in a single system.

Let’s take a deeper dive into how the two compare.

How inventory management software fits in

Manually tracking stock information is still an enduring and chronic problem for too many retailers, and if your strategy means adding new channels, stores or markets, the issue of managing inventory should not take up such a disproportionate amount of your time.

Briefly, what should be happening is:

  •         your ERP handles Inventory management
  •         the product development team works uses PML
  •         Sales and marketing work mainly in the CRM
  •       Your PIM tool works to guarantee the quality and uniqueness of all the product data underlying the above


The data tracked by those programs is entirely interconnected. You may ask yourself whether you could do away with one of these now that product data is stored in your PIM. In particular, you may wonder if you still need to track product inventory using an inventory management tool housed in your ERP.

Of course, the answer is ‘YES.’ It doesn’t matter how big your company is, because having a well-functioning inventory management system is crucial for any product-centric business, be they brands, retailers or manufacturers. Its functionalities help to keep track of supplies, as well as determining their exact prices. Another valuable function is its ability to help predict and manage sudden changes in demand without impacting on customer experience or product quality.

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Inventory management, ERP and PIM

Over two thirds of customers use online channels to research products before they decide. This applies even when they actually buy the products in a physical store. Collecting product data and enriching it in line with the requirements of each online marketplace, sales opportunities for your product listings will be enhanced in everything from SEO visibility to sales conversions.

Centralisation is the key to managing inventory efficiently and effectively. A multitude of specialised software systems look after each store or channel in an isolated way, but a PIM system provides a single location where all product data is harmonised and controlled at the same time. Your product data is collected from every other source, be it software or spreadsheets. The PIM processes this voluminous information and makes sure it is accurate, complete, and suitable for all channels used.

ERPs are the right place for an inventory management tool. The supply chain needs integration at every available stage to be optimised. That means providing real-time oversight of stock. All stock, of all types.

However, an inventory management system is certainly not equivalent to a PIM solution. Inventory software generally runs as one module on an ERP system, as it is specialised in running processes which are data heavy. Conversely, managing product data is best carried out in a PIM system, as it is content-heavy.

Integration and unification

Product data management and inventory management are certainly closely connected, in that they form part of the interconnected and layered product data management among companies who have to work across multiple channels.

Inventory handles the massive volume of data coming in from all sources and it can be of many types. As such, the information (of which product data is only a part) can end up as siloed data across other parts of a company’s tech stack. What a PIM does is to complement inventory (or eliminate its weakness) by working as a single point of destination for all product data. In fact, ERPs (and inventory management tools) do a job, but neither were designed to manage product data specifically.

The inventory management system you use can integrate with product data management as a whole, while the PIM specialises in aggregating (from every source) all the product information it needs in order to support sales, marketing, and product teams in enriching data for export to sales channels. In fact, this unification of systems enhances demand forecasting as well. You can monitor well-selling products to replenish your stock in a timely fashion.

Integration also allows all relevant decision-makers to access a single, verified version of information from a central hub. Ensuring cleansed data is deployed, it simplifies and validates approvals to, and communications with external business partners.

Final words

Inventory management tools will continue to do what they are designed to do – feed the information to a PIM tool, which can deploy its powerful and wide-ranging features to normalise, store and transform product data so that it can be deployed as enriched, contextualised, and high-quality product information, wherever needed and through whichever channel or touchpoint. Our exclusive PIM buyers’ guide will equip you will what you need to know to make the best choice when selecting your PIM solution.

Finally, you are welcome to contact us to talk about your product information management needs? We can talk together about how our expertise can help you to benefit from efficient, governed processes and how to ensure high-quality product data for outstanding product experiences on your eCommerce platform.

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